In the wake of the catastrophic flooding across the state in July, many of our local farmers and farmworkers across the state are in need of support. Many suffered extensive crop loss, loss of expensive infrastructure (barns, food processing equipment, irrigation systems, greenhouses, etc.), and flooded roads that limited their capacity to deliver products to local markets, resulting in the loss of crucial sales. You can help! Next time at checkout, ask your cashier to “Round-Up ” to benefit two local nonprofit organizations that are working hard to get funds to farms quickly and without strings attached. From July 30th – August 7th, your can round up your register totals to benefit AALV’s New Farms for New Americans Farmer Emergency Fund. From August 8th – August 16th all rounded-up proceeds will benefit the NOFA-VT Farmer Emergency Fund. Read on to learn more about these two local nonprofit organizations and the work they’re doing to provide critical relief to Vermont’s farmers and farmworkers.
AALV helps new Americans from all parts of the world gain independence in their new communities through a range of integration services, including bridging case management, workforce development, behavioral health awareness, and interpreter services programming. With support from AALV’s multicultural, multilingual staff, their clients can smoothly transition to living and working in Vermont.
8,000 refugees have settled in Vermont over the past 30 years. Many of them come with a lifelong experience of farming, but once here many do not have easy access to land and resources to continue their agrarian traditions. New Farms for New Americans (NFNA), a program offered through AALV, provides a community-based gardening and agriculture program for refugees and immigrants. Without New Farms for New Americans, families would not be able to grow large quantities of fresh vegetables for their families, grow culturally significant crops or address food and financial security.
Normally at this time of year, the New Farms for New Americans community is full of smiles in anticipation of the crops the community of refugee families would soon be harvesting. Unfortunately, their farmland in Burlington’s Intervale was destroyed during the recent flooding.
It is difficult to convey all that has been lost for the Bhutanese, Nepali, Burundian, Congolese, Somali Bantu, Burmese, and Karen farmers who make up the New Farms for New Americans community: seeds that have been saved for generations through other floods, famine and war; seven months of food for each of the 100 households who participate with NFNA every year; culturally important crops that can not be bought locally; and finally— the smiles on their faces.
New Farms for New Americans via AALV will continue to provide technical support for the farmers during the next several months, and if you’d like to do more to help the 100 households recoup some of their financial losses, please consider donating to the NFNA Flood Recovery Fund by asking your cashier to round up your total at the register. You may also contribute to their efforts by donating at this link: https://www.aalv-vt.org/donate.
Since its establishment in 1997, the NOFA-VT Farmer Emergency Fund has supported farmers in times of challenge. Money from this fund goes directly from donors to farms with no strings attached, quickly helping them get through the initial recovery stages after a disaster.
The recent catastrophic flooding Vermont experienced was no different. As soon as the floodwaters hit, NOFA put out the call for donations to the fund and the community answered. So far NOFA-VT has collectively raised enough money to support over 100 farms with $5,000 grants apiece. These funds were raised through the sheer force of community solidarity—small donations, big donations, farmers helping each other, businesses running fundraising events, funders, friends, neighbors, and strangers sharing the word.
The first round of checks has already been distributed to farms, and NOFA continues to write checks as more applications pour in. They anticipate distributing all of the currently available funds to farms impacted by the flood.
In the event that more funds are raised than NOFA has applications for, they will increase the funding available for each farm. NOFA does not pull any administrative costs for the organization out of the Emergency Fund, so all money is directly passed to farms in need.
For some farms, this will just be the start of a long rebuilding process. NOFA will continue to advocate for meaningful federal and state disaster relief for farms, as the scale and scope of need far exceeds that which grants can cover. But in the meantime, community support like the Farmer Emergency Fund helps farmers and farmworkers stay on their feet and make a plan for what’s next. Please consider making a donation by asking your cashier to round up your total in support of the NOFA-VT Farmer Emergency Fund. Your donations provide a vital lifeline for farmers in need in the wake of this disaster. You may also donate at this link: https://www.nofavt.org/farmer-emergency-fund